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Old 05-15-2013, 12:31 AM   #1
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Stair treads & flooring: how to tie them in?


I've read enough to know that some people are adamant against using laminate on 2nd floor because of the trip hazard with stairs. Well, I can't afford engineered wood (and no matter how hard the finish is, the wood underneath is usually soft, especially at the lower price points).

I'm going to do my 2nd floor in laminate. The problem is, I have stairs coming right off the hall. It's currently covered in carpet. Today, I peaked under the carpet & it appears that I have OSB treads & risers under there. I also have a landing about 3 stairs down where the stairs make a right-angle turn.

So what do I do with the top stair if I don't have laminate?
I'm guessing I have a 3-4 inch strip of the same hardwood (probably oak) my treads will be made out of, and then laminate. The hardwood will have to be as thin as the laminate plus underlayment.

What about the landing? (42 " x 42"). Can I find something like an oak plywood to fit this, & remove the OSB that's there now?

I know people say laminate lowers a house's value, but it's going to improve my value, compared to the old carpet that's in my house now. I have laminate in my entry way (probably higher end) and in my kitchen (probably low to mid range) and I love it. I haven't managed to do any damage to it - there probably are a few tiny dings in the kitchen, but I've never noticed them. There's nothing in the entry way.

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Old 05-15-2013, 10:41 AM   #2
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Stair treads & flooring: how to tie them in?


Your OSB landing is your subfloor. You can't remove and replace that with oak ply as a finished floor. How would you fasten it to the framing? Are the stair treads OSB aswell? Does that OSB have a round nosing or a square nosing? Or no nosing at all?

How/what were you planning for a nosing for the top step? A solid oak nosing is fine but will have to cover the laminate flooring thus creating a lip. Such a tripping hazard for the top step.

Why not carpet the stairs and the hallway and leave the laminate in the bedrooms where the transition will be easier. Btw, oak stairs are expensive and require fine finishing techniques. They can be challenging even for most experienced carpenters.

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Old 05-15-2013, 10:41 PM   #3
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Stair treads & flooring: how to tie them in?


Thanks for the comments.

The OSB stair treads have a round nose. (Why do you ask? Were you wondering if the OSB was strong enough? I myself wondered when I discovered it was OSB - but it seems pretty solid.)

For the top step, I was thinking I'd have a strip of oak 4 inches (?) wide. Why couldn't the oak be fairly thin (1 cm thick) (same as the laminate flooring)? Why couldn't I do what you showed in this picture, except it would just be on the top stair (=hallway).
Stairs in laminate

Why not carpet? I hate carpet. Plus, my cats have destroyed the carpet on the hallway side of the bedroom doorway (which is immediately to the right of the stairs), so I have to do something about that.

I'm confused by your first paragraph. Isn't the OSB landing just nailed to framing? Why couldn't I nail plywood down the same way? Of course, I'd have to make sure it's just as strong. I am just beginning to think about the stairs. Could I find an engineered oak hardwood & put it over the OSB on the landing? That would add about 1/4 " which I think would be within code.

I've finished oak trim before & it looked quite nice. But, people weren't walking on that, which makes the treads more challenging in terms of finishing. Can I use whatever polyurethane is used on oak floors? Or is there something with an even harder finish available?

What makes oak stair treads so challenging? Is it fitting them to the staircase so there is no gap? I can see that being a big challenge. Are there other things I haven't thought of? I know they're expensive - that's an issue (and why this is not going to happen immediately). Perhaps I'll have to practice on a few cheap boards to see if I can get a decent fix (measure six times, cut once?)
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Old 05-16-2013, 07:59 AM   #4
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Stair treads & flooring: how to tie them in?


Quote:
Originally Posted by lazzlazz

The OSB stair treads have a round nose. (Why do you ask? Were you wondering if the OSB was strong
We're you planning to install hardwood over these treads? They are strong enough but a round nosing on OSB stairs treads is designed for carpet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lazzlazz
For the top step, I was thinking I'd have a strip of oak 4 inches (?) wide. Why couldn't the oak be fairly thin (1 cm thick) (same as the laminate flooring)? Why couldn't I do what you showed in this picture, except it would just be on the top stair (=hallway).
Were you planning on a squared step or rounded nosing? In the picture I showed a milled hardwood nosing. It was matched to the thickness of the tile and mortar. For that transition between the hardwood and tile, I applied a thin bead of rubberized grout to allow for very slight movement between the different materials. The nosing are about 7/8" thick and rabbeted down to the tile thickness. When I use this method for hardwood or some eng. hardwood, I match the T&G using the appropriate router bit. I can then glue the joint and fasten and glue down the nosing. Solid.
Your laminate flooring needs to move or float which is why there is a special stair nosing for laminate. And they suck. Useless. I will not install them. Too dangerous. Maybe they've come out with something different lately but they suck.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lazzlazz
I hate carpet. Plus, my cats have destroyed the carpet... so I have to do something about that.
No need to get the SPCA involved here.
I have tile and hardwood throughout my entire house...except the stairway and upper hall. Used a good wool carpet and that stands up to my dog and clean easily.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lazzlazz
I'm confused by your first paragraph. Isn't the OSB landing just nailed to framing? Why couldn't I nail plywood down the same way? Of course, I'd have to make sure it's just as strong.
Sure, but I thought you said oak plywood?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lazzlazz
I am just beginning to think about the stairs.
Finishing stairs with hardwood so they function well and look good takes a lot of planning. It's not for anyone who is limited by skills or tools. It's fine joinery work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lazzlazz
Can I use whatever polyurethane is used on oak floors? Or is there something with an even harder finish available?
Prefinished hardwood flooring generally have aluminum oxide in the finish. Helps resist scratching. A process done at the factory level. Check with your local paint store for the best flooring finishes available. I use Acrylic Polyurethane.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lazzlazz
What makes oak stair treads so challenging? Is it fitting them to the staircase so there is no gap? I can see that being a big challenge.
Prep-ing the rough stairway properly. Fitting treads, risers and nosings over and over again until they fit perfectly. Filling any gaps and holes. Sanding and then more sanding. Pre-sealing and then more sanding. Staining. Finish coat then more sanding. Another coat then more sanding. And one final coat. Your done...easy!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lazzlazz
Are there other things I haven't thought of?
Are there post, railing and ballasters attached to the stairs? Many unforeseen issues will arise as you progress, guaranteed. Careful planning can help lessen those issues. I've seen carpenters/framers "paint" themselves into a corner when it comes to finishing with wood or trim work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lazzlazz
Perhaps I'll have to practice on a few cheap boards to see if I can get a decent fix (measure six times, cut once?)
Yes practice. I've been practicing for 30yrs and still find hardwood stairways challenging. Perhaps I should drop my mantra; "As long as its perfect...that's close enough"
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Old 05-18-2013, 03:49 PM   #5
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Stair treads & flooring: how to tie them in?


Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ Force View Post
We're you planning to install hardwood over these treads? They are strong enough but a round nosing on OSB stairs treads is designed for carpet.

I was planning on taking the existing treads off to keep stair height as close to existing as possible.


Were you planning on a squared step or rounded nosing?
I haven't really thought that far.

In the picture I showed a milled hardwood nosing. It was matched to the thickness of the tile and mortar. For that transition between the hardwood and tile, I applied a thin bead of rubberized grout to allow for very slight movement between the different materials. The nosing are about 7/8" thick and rabbeted down to the tile thickness. When I use this method for hardwood or some eng. hardwood, I match the T&G using the appropriate router bit. I can then glue the joint and fasten and glue down the nosing. Solid.
Thanks for that info.

Your laminate flooring needs to move or float which is why there is a special stair nosing for laminate. And they suck. Useless. I will not install them. Too dangerous. Maybe they've come out with something different lately but they suck.
I wasn't going to use the laminate stair nosing for the top step (hallway level). I've seen that stuff & I don't think they will last, which makes them dangerous.

Sure, but I thought you said oak plywood?
I did say that originally. But I had been thinking I would take the existing OSB off the landing (42" x 42") & replace it with oak plywood (to keep the height between the adjacent treads close to existing) - which you said would create problems. That got me thinking about using hardwood. It probably wouldn't add much in height over the existing carpet & pad.


Finishing stairs with hardwood so they function well and look good takes a lot of planning. It's not for anyone who is limited by skills or tools. It's fine joinery work.

Prefinished hardwood flooring generally have aluminum oxide in the finish. Helps resist scratching. A process done at the factory level. Check with your local paint store for the best flooring finishes available. I use Acrylic Polyurethane.

Prep-ing the rough stairway properly. Fitting treads, risers and nosings over and over again until they fit perfectly. Filling any gaps and holes. Sanding and then more sanding. Pre-sealing and then more sanding. Staining. Finish coat then more sanding. Another coat then more sanding. And one final coat. Your done...easy!


Are there post, railing and ballasters attached to the stairs? Many unforeseen issues will arise as you progress, guaranteed. Careful planning can help lessen those issues. I've seen carpenters/framers "paint" themselves into a corner when it comes to finishing with wood or trim work.

None of these; just stairs.

Yes practice. I've been practicing for 30yrs and still find hardwood stairways challenging. Perhaps I should drop my mantra; "As long as its perfect...that's close enough"
I'll never achieve perfection or even close. But generally, what I can do looks good to pretty good. Carpeting looks awful.

I appreciate your warnings about the difficulty of getting the treads to fit well. I hadn't adequately thought about that. I'll have to spend time practicing before I rip everything up - I'll just work on the 2 stairs from the landing (where the stairs turn) to the upper hall at first. (And there's always quarter round to hide problems!)

Last edited by lazzlazz; 05-18-2013 at 03:53 PM.
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Old 05-18-2013, 04:34 PM   #6
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Stair treads & flooring: how to tie them in?


Is (white) oak always best for treads? Or is something like maple ok as well?
I've seen plenty of old houses with what looks like some kind of fir or pine - those are the ones where the treads have worn. It looks ok for the house, though.

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